Website terms and conditions template: news, wiki or community site; free-to-access model

These terms have been drawn for a site that fosters an online community. A key differentiator of this document from others we offer is that there are no provisions for paid subscription, so although membership could be required for access, it would be free. Examples of types of sites that might use these T&C include: collaborative sites such as software development communities; wikis; user maintained directories; online fan clubs; and customer communities (such as those offering product support). The template includes strong protection of intellectual property, whether generated by you or by your subscribers.
Suitable for use in: England & Wales and Scotland
  • Solicitor approved
  • Plain English makes editing easy
  • Guidance notes included
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About these website T&C

This template is suitable for websites that provide an online community.

Such sites are likely to allow extensive user interaction, such as posting content on forums, writing and commenting on blog posts, rating products, using interactive tools, and writing reviews.

Types of websites for which this T&C template would be suitable would include:

  • collaboration sites such as those for software that bring together designers and engineers to develop a product or service
  • wikis, where content is submitted and moderated by volunteers to create a reference library on a particular topic
  • user maintained directories and portals to other websites
  • user generated, free to use directories or listings sites, for example, sites that allow businesses to create profiles and allow users of those businesses to review the services provided
  • online fan clubs, that provide discussion facilities alongside news
  • customer communities, such as user augmented customer support services for products

Visitors could be businesses or private individuals or both.

This template has been written to comply with UK law. Much is enforceable in many other legal jurisdictions as well.

The benefit of clear terms

Using this document will help you:

  • set out clearly how your business works, the service you provide and what you expect from visitors
  • present a professional image of the website. Our use of plain English helps ensure visitors do not feel intimidated by overly formal or legalistic language
  • prevent misunderstandings and make solving disputes easier
  • protect your website from misuse (we include paragraphs that form an Acceptable Use Policy, useful if your visitors can interact each other, for example, by posting reviews or exchanging messages in a forum)
  • protect your website from complaints about content that your users posted – particularly important if your users can contribute content that you might not moderate in real time

Alternative templates

This set of T&C and the others listed below provide protection to websites that are "content rich" (in other words, provide text, images, videos and other media), and that require protection against misuse of that content.

Other templates differ in the level of interaction of site visitors with the site, and whether visitors pay on the site for access to the content.

If you charge a subscription fee for access, these T&C are suitable. Examples would include online newspapers and magazines, sites that sell information such as reports through subscription, forums and information portals. The template contains extensive provisions relating to use of content and interaction.

Our terms for a moderated website are suitable if content is primarily produced by the owner or is approved before publishing, and where visitor interaction is more limited in scope. If your site doesn't have e-commerce facilities and doesn't aim to create an unfettered online community, then this template is most likely to be suitable. Examples of sites that would use this template include: personal or corporate blogs; directories (for example, of local attractions); or magazine-style review sites where content is published by pre-approved writers.

If you are in any doubt as to which template you should choose, please contact us.

The law in this document

The law in these T&C is largely common law that deals with the basics of contracts: offer, acceptance, liabilities and risk. That means that, by and large, you can set the commercial terms you want. Our guidance notes will tell you what you can change safely.

This document also contains paragraphs that provide intellectual property protection, both governing how content is used by your visitors and how information posted to your site by your visitors can be used by you.

We have contracted out of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 so as not to obligate you in contracts made between your customer and any other party. This is usual in a document such as this one.

Document contents

The document includes provisions that cover:

  • definitions
  • interpretation
  • basis of contract (licence to use the website)
  • grant of licence for you to use content posted by a visitor
  • acceptable use policy: terms governing user posted content
  • removal of offensive content
  • security
  • storage of data
  • protection of intellectual property belonging to the site owner
  • termination of the agreement
  • other miscellaneous legal provisions to protect you (limitation of liability, warranties, exclusions, indemnities etc)

This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current English law.

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